The new strain of coronavirus is probably already in Northern Ireland and the Republic, Stormont’s First Minister has warned.
Arlene Foster said this morning that ministers were very concerned about the highly infectious mutation and tests were ongoing.
“It is probable that it is here and likely it is in the Republic too,” she told the BBC.
The Northern Ireland Executive has slashed the five-day holiday relaxation of restrictions, allowing three households to gather, to just Christmas Day.
Flexibility will be afforded to people working on December 25 to enable them to join others on another day over the festive break.
The decision was made by ministers during an emergency virtual Executive meeting late last night.
Ministers also debated imposing a temporary ban on travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in response to the new variant of Covid-19 that has taken hold in London and Kent.
No decision was taken but ministers are expected to return to the issue today.